Does the world really need instant tea crystals?

Most modern inventions offer a way to streamline our lives. We’re busy people and life in 2018 is hectic, so it makes sense that innovations come in the form of quick and easy ways to improve everyday life. How would we even live without our smartphones conveniently collating every aspect of our existence? There are some things, however, that are questionable additions to our lives. Selfie sticks, avocado keepers and horizontal showers all matter to someone, but how useful are these inventions, really? To this confusing list, I’m adding tea crystals.

A company named Pique Tea (I see what you did there and am not amused) has created what they term to be tea crystals. These crystals can be added to hot or cold water to create (allegedly) perfectly brewed tea in a fraction of the time it usually takes. Apparently there’s a subculture brewing in the United States that is looking to change the way tea is prepared and consumed. And before you get excited, no, these so-called crystals do not at all resemble actual crystals.

How pretty?! Photo by Alison Marras for Unsplash.

None of this sits right with me. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t aware that there was anything wrong with the way tea is currently made. Using pre-brewed tea in the form of ‘crystals’ to speed up the tea-making process isn’t, well, my cup of tea. I have questions. And qualms.

As with most warm beverages, tea is a very personal experience. Some people like weak tea (these people are wrong), while others like their tea brewed for three to four minutes. Some people even like their tea brewed until the tannins develop so deeply that they stick to the inside of the cup (These people are also wrong). Sure, it’s a fairly time-consuming process but, frankly, you’re not managing your time well if you can’t take 10 minutes out of your day to make yourself a proper cup of tea.

This new process seems strangely committal and risky. How do the ‘crystals’ know how I like my tea? What if I follow the Great British rule of adding milk to my cup first and brewing the tea in a pot? Is this tea going to get stronger if I let it sit for a certain amount of time? It’s stressful.

Sometimes stewing time is an important part of retaining your sanity. Photo by Morgan Sessions for Unsplash.

There’s also the matter of waste. The crystals come in individual wrappers and, while this may seem insignificant, keep in mind the effect that plastic straws have on the environment. Good old-fashioned teabags (the tagless kind) are made from paper and are biodegradable.

I concede that the backstory of how Pique Tea came about is interesting. There seem to be some health benefits attached: you get six times the antioxidants this way, apparently, and mould and bacteria – apparently common in normal teabags (?!) – is not a problem here. It’s also great that creator Simon Cheng has studied Chinese history – at Harvard, no less – so he has awareness of the immense heritage he’s building on.

But in the year 2018, when I can conveniently have anything – from dinner to a date – at the swipe of a finger, I’m not sure that I need my tea-making process to be revolutionised. Instead, I would like to retain the zen-like moment of pause those 10 minutes bring me every day.

What do you think?


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